Webasto North America, a global tier 1 manufacturer of automotive, commercial vehicle and aftermarket equipment, has announced the launch of its new A La Carte Aftermarket Van HVAC kit-building system. As an industry first, Webasto’s novel, menu-driven approach enables customers to equip Ford Transit, RAM ProMaster or Mercedes Sprinter Vans faster with additional HVAC systems while keeping fewer stocks and all at lower costs.
To date, those in the auxiliary, auxiliary heating / cooling, or standalone HVAC kits market for today’s most popular commercial vehicle brands and models have had to first purchase a model-specific kit that is tailored for their particular vehicle. However, given the popularity of vans and the variety of models, the chances are that one of the 25-30 most popular kits may be out of inventory or otherwise readily available locally.
“Webasto has been making aftermarket HVAC kits for vans for years, and we’ve made 22 separate systems alone, each designed for the leading makes and models of van,” said Mike Cicioni, HVAC Application Manager. “Our systems work seamlessly, but our distributors had to carry multiples of all 22 kits to be in stock and ready to meet market variables.”
Webasto realized that many of the HVAC components they used to make their kits were common across different brands and models, and that others were specifically designed and manufactured. They also realized that unbundling the components could make it easier for coachbuilders, retrofitters, and fleets to get what they wanted, faster and more consistently.
“Our goal was to find a way to relieve our customers by allowing them to keep a reduced inventory of the individual components instead of 22 or more vehicle-specific kits,” said Cicioni. “Essentially, the concept was to provide cheaper unbundled components that could later be re-bundled solely on the basis of application and demand.”
Webasto engineers set out to recheck every system and component to minimize variability and optimize application performance. As they refined their designs, their technical teams conducted field research with numerous installer groups to understand how they would approach an installation. They took what they’d learned and made their designs and processes even leaner. The new A La Carte Aftermarket Van HVAC Kit-Building System was born.
The revolutionary approach enables Webasto to cover 90% of the van market with around 30 HVAC components à la carte. With the Webasto system, its customers keep fewer stocks and at the same time can react better to fluctuating demand. The system also puts its customers in a more convenient position to capture a wider range of work vehicle applications beyond Webasto’s existing van-specific HVAC kits.
Webasto has developed a decision tree method that enables practically everyone to choose the right system components by answering just eight simple questions. The company is also introducing a product brochure that includes the eight-question product specifier. The questions can be answered by simply highlighting the brochure and noting the appropriate part numbers. An online configurator is also in the works and will be compatible with both desktop and mobile devices.
“We took on a complex task and made it easy for our customers to tick a few boxes and specify an HVAC system that was optimized for their specific application,” said Matt Wheeler, Head of HVAC – Light & Medium Duty. “We have worked hard to make our customers’ work easier.”
One of the issues that Webasto’s A la Carte HVAC kit building system addresses for the aftermarket is the common problem of over- or under-specifying retrofit HVAC systems. As with consumer purchasing HVAC systems, there is often confusion about the correct sizing of an HVAC system required to heat or cool a particular make and model of van.
“This can be a matter of inventory because if someone doesn’t have the right system for a particular vehicle, they can recommend something they have in stock,” said Wheeler. “Since this system is not optimized for this particular vehicle, it will be mechanically and electronically above or below average from the start, which can later lead to comfort, service and maintenance problems.”
When a Webasto HVAC kit for the aftermarket is specified and configured with its unique a la carte method and is seamlessly integrated into a vehicle plant system. The Webasto system offers the user optimal additional heating and cooling performance because it is the right size and the right configuration for the respective vehicle and the respective application.
For high-volume customers and manufacturers of special vehicles for road vehicles, Webasto continues to offer the direct support and customized application solutions that they have always enjoyed. The team of experts from Webasto will be stationed in a customer’s production facility and, after observation, will create a customer-specific parts list if necessary.
“We have designed, engineered, and marketed a system of exceptional quality that is easy to specify and install, all at a competitive price,” said Wheeler. “Webasto’s A La Carte Aftermarket Aftermarket Van HVAC Kit-Building System will literally change the status quo in the aftermarket auxiliary van HVAC segment, and that change will be better for everyone involved.”
Further information is available at http://www.webasto-group.com.